【英语中国】中国拒当世界第一的背后 China at the summit

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2014-5-14 06:33

小艾摘要: China is on the cusp of surpassing the US as the world’s biggest economy based on purchasing power, at least a decade sooner than many expected. That is the conclusion of the April report of the Inte ...
China at the summit
China is on the cusp of surpassing the US as the world’s biggest economy based on purchasing power, at least a decade sooner than many expected. That is the conclusion of the April report of the International Comparison Program, undertaken under the auspices of the World Bank – a report that China apparently tried to suppress. Those familiar with the effort indicate that Chinese advisers and surrogates waged a rearguard effort for at least a year, seeking to undermine the methodology and data on which the work was based.

On one level, China’s resistance to being labelled number one is somewhat at odds with the country’s longstanding obsession with building wealth and power. Chinese officials might be expected to bask in such statistical accolades, given the relentless quest the nation has undertaken. But instead the Chinese leadership has demurred, doing everything in its power to discredit the report and distance itself from the conclusion.

There are probably several reasons. Undoubtedly, there are political implications for Beijing if there is a growing perception of China’s ascendancy and a changing of the guard. American policy makers might take a harsher view on macroeconomic policy trends and trade policies practised by China. They could also re-evaluate many aspects of America’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region. At some level, China understands something quite profound about the US that perhaps even American citizens struggle with. The US will not go quietly into the night. America has grown accustomed, psychologically and politically, to being first among equals on the global stage. China is in no rush to assume that mantle.

Another reason for China’s coyness is that the country has yet to embrace a global role commensurate with its increasing status. It has practised, in the words of the noted Sinologist Susan Shirk, a policy of “shallow engagement”. This enables it to enjoy the benefits of being a major power while suffering few of the burdens. China has been content to drift behind other leading states. It wants the global respect but does not want to pick up the bill.

This is slowly changing. China is assisting in the international effort to address the mass kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, in Nigeria. Still, the ambivalence remains. Part of this reflects a belief in China that the rules of the global road were written by others. Instead, it has been mostly preoccupied with using its accumulating power to achieve national advantages in maritime disputes and trade disagreements.

Chinese reticence extends to a domestic audience as well. To poor and downtrodden Chinese citizens living in poverty who still struggle to make ends meet, the idea that this is what number one looks like might trigger a larger examination about state priorities. For instance, China has spent enormous sums in the last generation building up its military might while the health of the natural environment has suffered greatly with few reliable national standards for the health of water, air or food. There is no national safety net to help the old or less fortunate. China recognises that it has an enormous distance to go in achieving domestic development and addressing still enormous gaps between haves and have nots.

In this respect, the report from the International Comparison Program was most unwelcome for the Chinese leadership. In China today, there is only consensus around building national power – but little real agreement over what to do with that power once achieved, either abroad or most particularly at home.

The writer is chairman and chief executive of The Asia Group and on the board of the Center for a New American Security. From 2009-13 he served as the assistant US secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs

以购买力平价计算,中国马上就要超越美国成为世界第一大经济体,比许多人预计的至少早了10年。这是世界银行(World Bank)主办的国际比较计划(International Comparison Program,以下简称ICP)4月报告得出的结论,中国明显想抵制这份报告。知情人士指出,中国的顾问和代理人至少在一年前就展开防御,试图说明该报告所依据的方法和数据站不住脚。

某种程度上,中国对被贴上世界第一标签的抵制,与该国长久以来对建立财富和权力的痴迷有些相悖。在人们的料想中,中国官员或许会陶醉在这类统计上的荣誉中,因为该国一直以来对此不懈追求。然而中国领导层却表现出异议,他们竭尽全力证明这份报告不可信,并尽量强调中国与这一结论的差距。

个中原因大概有几点。如果各国日益觉察到中国的优势,从而在防卫上有所转变,那么世界第一的标签对中国政府就无疑具有政治影响。美国政策制定者或许会对中国的宏观经济政策趋势以及贸易政策采取更严厉的态度。他们或许还会重估美国在亚太地区势力存在的多个方面。在某些层面上,中国对美国的认识之深刻,或许连美国公民自己都难以达到。美国不会束手就擒。在世界舞台上,美国已从心理和政治上习惯了在同等国家中位居第一。中国还不急于接过它的位子。

中国之所以羞怯的另一原因,是该国还未准备好接受与其日益提高的地位所相称的全球角色。用著名的中国问题专家谢淑丽(Susan Shirk)的话来说,它实施的是一种“浅层接触”政策。这令它在享受身为大国的好处的同时,不用承担太多责任。中国一直满足于跟在其他领导国身后随波逐流。它既想要全世界的尊重,又不想为此买单。

但上述情况已慢慢发生改变。中国正协助一项针对大规模绑架的国际行动——伊斯兰恐怖组织博科圣地(Boko Haram)在尼日利亚绑架了近300名女学生。不过,中国的矛盾心理依然存在。这种心理部分反映了中国的一个信念,即全球道路的规则是由其他国家书写的。中国主要是全神贯注地利用自己不断积累的力量,在海事纠纷和贸易分歧中实现国家优势。

中国的讳莫如深也传染到国内观众。对于那些生活贫困、勉强维持生计的中国底层穷苦民众,如果世界第一就意味着这样的生活,这种想法或许会引发他们对国家的优先事项进行一次更广泛的审视。例如,中国过去二三十年投入巨资建设军事力量,而自然环境承受着极大破坏,水、空气和食物都缺乏可靠的国家健康标准。中国没有国家保障网来帮助年老者或遭遇不幸的人。中国知道自己离实现国内发展、以及解决巨大的贫富差距还有很长的路要走。

这也是为什么中国领导人极不愿接受国际比较计划4月份的报告。今日的中国仅有建立国家实力的共识,但对于实现该目标后,如何在对外或者(尤其是)对内事务上发挥该实力,鲜少达成真正的一致。

注:本文作者是亚洲集团(Asia Group)主席兼首席执行官、新美国安全中心(Center for a New American Security)董事。2009年至2013年担任美国东亚及太平洋事务助理国务卿。

译者/何黎

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